Steve Hauschildt recorded Nonlin when he was on tour. Representative of alienation and stark culture shocks, the sounds of LA, New York, Tbilisi, and Brussels all work their way into Hauschildt’s travel-fogged synths. Synth melodies come and go, which is indicative of a manic touring schedule where only the briefest glimpse is possible. It’s just a taste: another venue, another hotel, another flight.
The nonlinear approach to Nonlin goes well with this concept of continuous, disorienting movement, the tour creating spells of chaos in its own right. Hauschildt’s city consists of melodic and dissonant architecture, and they both clash in this impressive soundscape. On the ground, strong, reassuring melodies are slowly swamped by a thick fog. In the sky, on route to another city, dense, harmonic clouds join the cumulonimbus.
Predictability bends out of shape as other sequences enter the music; schedules are turned upside-down. Staccato beams of light transfix the listener, creating stuttering rhythms of their own, and other soundscapes remain beatless. There’s scope for some downtime, too. ‘Attractor B’ features a cool synth-family, but the melody meanders, and normal service is resumed with the arrival of a fast-paced and juddering beat; on the move again. The album veers between isolated pockets of rest and sudden activity. One overlaps and intrudes upon the other – not that this is a bad thing; it’s just the way it is.
‘The Nature Remaining’, for instance, is closer to ambient than it is electronica. Even though the synth-ammunition is locked and loaded, the synths settle for a slow pace, and coupled with a light reverb, the piece becomes tranquil, closing its eyes for a breather. Nonlin feels great because of these breaks, these necessary pauses, offering a smooth, frictionless motion absent of in-flight turbulence. It’s no surprise when the next track, ‘Nonlin’, presents the polar opposite, going deep into IDM and glitch-electronica. The previous track had foreshadowed it, had set it up. Even the skittering rhythm can’t hold back a radiant harmony, and Hauschildt’s variety is impressive. With nine lengthy tracks, listeners can expect the long haul, but it never feels like a laborious trek. Enjoy the ride; it’ll be over before you know it.